(CBS Local)– Ralph Macchio has walked in the shoes of Daniel LaRusso for 35 years.
The star of “The Karate Kid” is back in the dojo in YouTube Premium’s “Cobra Kai.” The show, which is now in its second season, follows the life of Johnny Lawrence over 30 years after the epic All Valley Karate Tournament and refuels the rivalry between LaRusso and Lawrence. Macchio was approached by creators Hayden Schlossberg, Josh Heald, and Jon Hurwitz a few years ago and was intrigued by the idea.
“They are the three biggest Karate Kid fans you will ever meet,” said Macchio in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They said they wanted to do a show called Cobra Kai and it was kind of a punch to the gut. Hayden led with the theme of bullying. He wanted to hit me with the themes. It took a couple of hours, it was a big pitch. They pitched it as a comedy and my main question was where is the funny. People had trouble wrapping their heads around the tone. I just had an instinct about them, they knew more about the movies then I did. They are the right guys and they want to make a show that the fans want to see.”
In addition to his leading roles in the The Karate Kid movies, Macchio also spent time on Broadway with Robert De Niro. It was a memorable experience for Macchio because he wanted to be Gene Kelly when he was a kid.
“Raging Bull was one of my all-time favorites and I got to work on stage with De Niro on Broadway,” said Macchio. “It was 1986 in ‘Cuba And His Teddy Bear.’ That was an amazing time and it was De Niro’s first professional theater experience and it was a big deal. It was ’86, Karate Kid 2 was in the movie theater and I had a movie ‘Crossroads’ that was out before that and the Mets won the World Series.”
While Macchio is still most known for his time on screen with Mr. Miyagi, one of his first big breaks was “The Outsiders” in 1983 with director Francis Ford Coppola and guys like Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise. Macchio will never forget what it was like to work with Coppola.
“He created a theater camp for us,” said Macchio. “For the two weeks before we even shot the movie, he would give the guys playing the Socs nicer script binders and higher floors at the hotel. They had car service pickup. The Greasers got their scripts with metal holding it together, lower floors at the hotel and van with no air conditioning. He was trying to set up the social class differences and create an environment where we did improvisations. At one point he gave me two or four dollars to get through the day and find a place to sleep. I wound up sleeping outside covered in newspapers, which is in the movie.”
Season two of “Kobra Cai” is available to stream on YouTube Premium.